Ice Skating in Amalfi

Amalfi Ice Rink Skating

There is a fun addition to the festive atmosphere in Amalfi this year with the arrival of an ice skating rink. Yes an ice skating rink in Amalfi! The kids in town have been enjoying trying it out on these warm December days. There are even cute little bears they can push around to get used to the ice. It certainly isn’t a natural experience on the Amalfi Coast!

Amalfi Coast Ice Rink

The ice rink is set up along the lungomare with beautiful views of the harbor and Amalfi. Even if you’re not one to take to the ice, you certainly can’t beat the view!

Amalfi Ice Skating Rink

The ice rink in Amalfi is open until January 6th, 2016.

Amalfi Coast Travel La Praia Beach Praiano

Marina di Praia – My New Favorite Beach on the Amalfi Coast!

Amalfi Coast Travel La Praia Beach Praiano

The beautiful little beach in Marina di Praia in Praiano

I think I have a new favorite beach. But shhh … don’t tell Santa Croce. I’ve always like the little cove at Marina di Praia, located between Conca dei Marini and Praiano. The road clings to the mountainside high above the beach and a small access road that’s pretty easy to miss leads down to a tiny seaside village. The beach really isn’t much wider than the photo above, as you can see the shadow of the rocky cliff on the left. But what it lacks in size it sure makes up for with scenery and things to see and do.

Ciao Amalfi Coast Travel Marina di Praian Praiano Beach

– On the beach at La Praia

Locals call the beach La Praia or simply Praia, and the pebbly beach is the biggest draw during the day in the summer. But instead of being covered with rows of perfectly lined up umbrellas, the beach is mostly covered with boats of all shapes, sizes and colors. I love that! There are umbrellas and sunbeds for rental though, and if you’re planning to spend a day that’s the way to go as the beach isn’t very comfortable for sun bathing. But back to the boats!

Amalfi Coast Travel Marina di Praia Beach Praiano Sailboat

My favorite boat on the beach in Praia

I had my camera with me when I went to the beach at Praia, and just had to spend some time wandering through the boats and capturing their colors and patterns.

Amalfi Coast Travel Marina La Praia Praiano Green Fishing Boat

– Worn boat in Marina di Praia

The weathered wood and chipped paint reminded me of the first time I visited Marina di Praia back in the early spring of 2008 when the boats were being repainted and the stones on the beach were speckled with drops of green, blue, red and yellow paint.

Amalfi Coast Travel La Praia Beach Fishing Boats and Nets

Boats and fishing nets on the beach in Praia

The boats lined up on the beach and the fishing nets covering the wall nearby are such beautiful reminders of the simple life that was once all there was on the Amalfi Coast. It’s still there in all the villages along the coast, but it’s just a little easier to spot in some places. The nets were just fascinating with their colors and different shapes and sizes.

Amalfi Coast Travel Praia Fishing Nets Praiano

Fishing net artistry in Praia

The local fishermen likely though it was a bit nutty how much time I spent photographing this impressive wall of nets. Although I’m sure it’s a fairly common occurrence!

Amalfi Coast Travel Praia Fishing Nets

Amazed by the fishing nets at Praia

Nearby the beach a wide wall was covered with fishing nets. I wondered if they were there because they needed patching and where the fishermen had wandered to. Maybe to the nearby cafe for an espresso before tackling the laborious project.

Amalfi Coast Travel Marina di Praia Fishing Nets

Fishing nets drying in the sun

Just when I thought I had seen all the boats, I found this bright red and blue beauty. What do you think, does red and blue work for a Christmas card this year?

Amalfi Coast Travel Praia Fishing Boat Red and Blue

The color to paint your boat if you want to find it easily in boat parking …

There’s another lovely feature at Marina di Praia that makes it one of my favorite beaches. Starting nearby the beach there’s a walkway carved into the rocky cliffs that leads past some houses and to the famous Africana nightclub in Praiano. The beginning of the pathway leads right under the cliff. Best not to think about it too much and enjoy the view!

Amalfi Coast Travel Praiano Marina di Praia Beach

The beginning of the seaside walkway in Praia

Following the walkway leads away from the beach and west along the rugged coastline. The sunny beach comes in and out of view with the winding of the pathway.

Amalfi Coast Travel Praiano Marina di Praia Beach Walk

Say goodbye to the beach!

The pathway leads right through the Il Pirata restaurant, which has one of the most incredible dining areas overlooking the sea that I’ve ever seen. It’s especially magical at night! As you walk by, take a peek inside since it’s quite unusual having been carved out of the mountainside.

Amalfi Coast Travel Marina di Praia Ristorante Il Pirata

This restaurant is located inside a cave!

Just past Il Pirata you have a great view looking back toward the Marina di Praia beach where you can see how it’s just a small cove in the mountains.

Amalfi Coast Travel Marina di Praia Beach Praiano

Looking back at Marina di Praia and the Il Pirata restaurant

Every single available spot – even the most precarious looking – seems to be taken for swimming or fishing or sunbathing.

Amalfi Coast Travel Marina di Praia Fishing

– A mighty fine spot for fishing

When you’re not looking down at the sea and waves crashing into the rocks, take a look east to see the distinctive Capo di Conca jutting out into the water near Conca de Marini.

Amalfi Coast Travel Praiano Marina di Praia Conca dei Marini

A view of Capo di Conca in Conca dei Marini

If I could stay in just one place, it would be this spot along the walkway in the photo below. That’s one of my happy places my mind travels back to again and again.

Amalfi Coast Travel Praiano Walkway by the Sea

My happy place

Just around another corner sits the Africana nightclub carved into the mountain. During the day all is quiet and the light sparkling on the is far more appealing.

Amalfi Coast Travel Marina di Praia Flowers

Just when you think it couldn’t possibly get any prettier

Back on the beach, wander not far inland from the beach and you’ll find a pretty little piazza with more boats and a whitewashed church that seems like it would be more at home in Greece than Italy.

Amalfi Coast Travel Marina di Praiano Praia Church and Fishing Boats

Can I just stay in this spot and never leave?

I couldn’t get enough of this perfect little church with its white facade, teeny bell and strings of fairy lights above the entrance. I peered and peeked but could only get the tiniest of glimpses inside.

Amalfi Coast Travel Marina di Praia Church

Don’t you just want to hear that bell ring?

 

Amalfi Coast Travel Marina di Praia Priano Flower Vase

Sunshine and flowers (and more boats!) in Praia

I love a beach with things to see and do as well as beautiful water and good swimming. That’s exactly why I’m smitten with Marina di Praia. It’s a storybook setting and I want to write the stories that flutter about in the back of my mind as I wander along the sea and imagine weddings and village celebrations in that tiny church.

Ciao Amalfi Marina di Praia Beach 1

– Amazing dining spots at Praia

Of course, you don’t have to go far to find some excellent restaurants in Marina di Praia. My favorite is Da Armandino, which is just a few steps from the beach. So whether you’re looking for a special day at the beach, a great lunch spot or a romantic dinner on the Amalfi Coast, you’ll definitely remember your time at Marina di Praia. Make sure you take that walk along the sea … and tell me what stories you imagine taking place in this beautiful little cove on the Amalfi Coast!

Amalfi Coast Webcams

New Live Streaming Webcams of Amalfi!

Amalfi Coast Webcams

If you’re like me and miss the Amalfi Coast all the time when you’re not here, then I’ve got exciting news. The Lega Navale Amalfi webcams are back! They’re not only back, they’re better than before. There are three new HD live streaming webcams located around Amalfi and the images are much clearer than they used to be years ago. There’s even a new webcam, pictured above, that looks down over Amalfi and shows the entire port. Click on any of the images in this post to go to the webcams page where you can watch live. Or click here to see the Lega Navale Amalfi webcams.

Amalfi Piazza Duomo Webcam

After my first visit to Amalfi in 2007, I spent over a year going back and forth as I finished my Masters in Art History in Minnesota. I spent a lot of time missing Amalfi and watching the webcams. It felt like a small connection! With late hours studying at night, I often watched the sun rise over the Amalfi Coast with the webcam (below) pointed toward Salerno. It’s also fun watching the hustle and bustle of Piazza Duomo from morning until late at night.

Amalfi Webcam Live Streaming

With the live streaming you can even watch the sunlight sparkle across the sea. That’s the stuff travel dreams are made of! I hope you enjoy catching a glimpse of daily life in Amalfi with these new webcams. A huge thank you to Lega Navale for hosting them!

Amalfi Coast Travel Positano Beach Spiagga Grande

A Guide to the Beaches of Positano

Amalfi Coast Travel Best Beaches in Positano

After receiving such a great response about my Guide to the Beaches of Amalfi, I’ve decided to expand the series to cover another favorite spot on the Amalfi Coast. Of course, I’m talking about Positano! Now these aren’t your usual top beaches of the entire Amalfi Coast type guides. These narrow down to the beaches you can easily reach in or nearby a specific village and provide the sort of tips you’d expect from an insider.

What lovelier insider could you ask for than Eleonora Baldwin? You likely know her from the popular website Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino. Eleonora is also co-founder of Casa Mia – a cultural association that provides food and wine experiences in Rome, Florence, Sicily, Naples & Amalfi Coast. She also happens to love Positano just as much as I do. Ready to hit the beach in Positano? Let’s go!

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Guide to the Beaches of Positano

Whether for its unique architecture, crystal coves, stellar food or the small alleys and stairs that snake up its sensational vertical village, Positano is one of the Amalfi Coast’s most loved destinations. Portrayed in novels, in art and sponsored by an entire movement in the 1970s, Positano is a magnet for anyone enamored of the Mediterranean and the local Italian joie de vivre.

The majority of beaches on the Amalfi Coast are for the most part rocky. Forget long sandy stretches: shores in this part of Italy are pebbly coves pulled from towering cliffs, with rapidly plunging deep blue sea underfoot.

Positano is often known for its main central beach, but the “natural crèche village” boasts on the other hand several beaches to choose from. For a soak in Positano’s azure waters, you can pick one of the ones listed, and lounge there all day, or hop from one to the other, chasing the sun as it starts to dip behind the mountains as the evening approaches.

 

Spiaggia Grande

Amalfi Coast Travel Positano Beach Spiagga Grande
This is Positano’s main beach, easily recognizable thanks to its colorful rows of umbrellas. Stretching east from the town for about 300 meters, part of this beach is managed by one lido called L’Incanto, which rents out sun beds, chairs and umbrellas and provides guests with changing rooms, showers and a fine restaurant. At the end of the beach is the “Scogliera” a rocky terrace that accommodates topless sunning and the night club Music On the Rocks.

In the middle of the beach, in the “spiaggia libera” – the free beach of Positano, where you can just throw down your beach towel without paying rental fees – there is a small jetty from which boat excursions and rented boats depart to and from Capri and small coves nearby; while at the far west end is the actual dock for larger boats and ferries.

 

Fornillo

Amalfi Coast Travel Positano Beach Fornillo

Legend has it that in this smaller, more secluded beach, at the time of Emperor Tiberius, were a series of furnaces for bread baking (hence the name “fornillo” which is a dialectal shift of the word “forno,” Italian for oven). By way of a romantic path that climbs west, away from the Positano dock, you can reach the neighborhood of Fornillo, and its lovely beach. If you’re looking for a more quiet day, away from the crowds, but don’t want to travel outside of Positano, this is your best bet.

If you’re not staying in Positano proper but driving there, you can choose to reach Fornillo by way of either the Strada Statale, and then negotiate the climb down (and then eventually back up). The best thing to do in that case is park your car at the Pupetto lot which is owned by the same people who run the namesake lido on Fornillo beach.

 

Laurito

Amalfi Coast Travel Positano Beach Laurito

Laurito is Positano’s best kept secret. Small and wild, Laurito for decades has been the place where locals escape the noise and crowds of summer. The name derives from the abundance of laurel shrubs that grow wild in this small cove.
The small stretch of pebble beach is managed by two businesses: a small non-descript hotel and a fabulous restaurant. Da Adolfo is a fantastic, family-run informal eatery that serves super-fresh fish on a deck just a few steps from the shore. Throw on a sarong and order your meal and a carafe of white house wine with peach slices.

You can reach Laurito via a steep ramp of stairs that plunge down from Hotel San Pietro, connected with public Sita and Flavio Gioia bus lines. But the best way to get to Laurito is by boat. From the Positano dock, Da Adolfo runs a shuttle gozzo (local fishing boat), which departs every half hour, and which is easily recognizable by the red fish sign on the mast. Making a reservation is smart, especially if you want to relax on a sunbed after lunch.

 

Arienzo


The Arienzo beach is also known as the “300-steps beach,” because that’s the number you’ll be counting down (and back up!) to reach it from the Strada Statale main road. The walk down is fantastic, since the switchback ramps are immersed in perfumy greenery, and from here you can peek into some of the Amalfi Coast’s most luxurious villas hidden in the verdant corners of the mountain.

The beach has a free section, as well as a lido that rents out beach chairs, sunbeds and brightly colored umbrellas. Given its southwest exposition, Arienzo is also the one Positano beach that enjoys the longest amount of sunlight past 6 p.m.

Driving out of Positano headed towards Amalfi, pass Hotel San Pietro and keep going for another 800 yards until you reach the stairs down to Arienzo beach. If stairs are not your thing, there is also a nifty boat shuttle service from Positano and Praiano.

 

Discovering Hidden Beaches by Boat

Amalfi Coast Travel Positano by Boat Eleonora Baldwin

In addition to these fabulous Positano beaches, you can always rent a small power boat and reach secluded coves and inlets to enjoy the pleasure of having tiny, secret beaches – that are only accessible by sea – all to yourself!

West of Positano, along the coast, you can moor your gozzo or gommone (rubber dinghy) in beautiful and secluded swimming spots, where the crystal waters and cicada song carry you into Homeric dreamland. One is La Cattedrale – a sheer rock wall that descends into the blue Mediterranean sea from 200 meters above, with flat rock formations surfacing from the water that appear to have been designed purposely for sunbathing – the other is Il Germano, a protruding rock that resembles the profile of what legend has it was a German officer. Both places are perfect for snorkeling and diving off the side of your vessel, or just to lazily relax, floating away from beach crowds.

Insider tip: start your day early. On most of Amalfi Coast beaches the sun sets behind the mountain in the mid-afternoon. In order to enjoy the full day of swimming and sunning, wake up early and hit the spiaggia!

 

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ELEONORA BALDWIN
Food and lifestyle writer and Italian culinary/travel show host, Eleonora Baldwin provides insight on the Rome dining scene, as well as private culinary tours of Rome and other cities, for small groups through her co-owned company Casa Mia Italy Food & Wine.

She is the author, editor, photographer of popular blog Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino. She has contributed to numerous travel and lifestyle publications, and her writing appears regularly in several online food columns. Her first cookbook-memoir is due for publication in 2016.

Amalfi Coast Travel Basilca Sant Eustachio Ruins

Remarkable Ruins of the Basilica of Sant’Eustachio

Amalfi Coast Travel Basilica Sant Eustachio Scala

Along the stone steps between the sleepy villages of Minuta and Pontone in Scala, you’ll find something a little unexpected. Set in a commanding position on a promontory surrounded by terraces of olive and lemon trees sits the ruins of what was once one of the finest churches in the Republic of Amalfi in the Middles Ages. Following the zigzaging steps down, the remaining walls of Sant’ Eustachio keep coming into view, closer and closer, as you approach Pontone. Thanks to a locally run association, you can visit the ruins of Sant’Eustachio, which is beautiful stop on the walk from Scala down to Amalfi.

Amalfi Coast Travel Sant Eustachio Church Pontone

This remarkable church was constructed in the 12th century during the peak of the powerful maritime Republic of Amalfi. While Pontone is a frazione, or hamlet, of Scala today, in the Middle Ages all of Scala was part of the Duchy of Amalfi. Pontone was home to the prominent D’Afflitto family who constructed this church and dedicated it to a saint important to them, Saint Eustace, an early Christian martyr in the 2nd century AD. When you step into what was once the nave of the church, it’s hard to imagine the original splendor of this church.

Amalfi Coast Travel Basilca Sant Eustachio Ruins

A pathway leads around the walls of the church where you can stand below the curves of the three apses. Here there are signs of the elaborate decoration, which has been restored in areas to reveal the original structural polychromy. Staring up at the traces of design and architectural details, it’s easier to see that at its height Sant’Eustachio must have been an absolute jewel.

Amalfi Coast Travel Sant Eustachio Restoration

Although in ruins, it is one of the truest examples of the unique architectural style that existed in Amalfi during the Middle Ages – a blend of styles with touches of Sicilian, Arab and Norman influences to name just a few. From this spot high above Amalfi it seems a stretch to imagine traders hundreds and hundreds of years ago crisscrossing the Mediterranean. Yet they did and returned home to build beautiful churches and grand homes high above Amalfi.

Amalfi Coast Travel Sant Eustachio Architecture

The setting for one of the finest churches on the Amalfi Coast was naturally chosen for its incredible view. The small promontory juts out between the Dragone and Canneto valleys that run down to Amalfi and Atrani. Peeking through the trees you can catch a glimpse of Amalfi down by the sea.

Amalfi Coast Travel Sant Eustachio View of Amalfi

From the tip of the promontory below the ruins the view is breathtaking. Directly below is Pontone, while down the valley to the right is Amalfi and down the valley to the left is Atrani. Look left and you see Ravello sitting high atop its own promontory while to the right is Pogerola, a frazione of Amalfi.

Amalfi Coast Travel Sant Eustachio Stunning View

Whether you’re looking at the expansive view or peeking through a window of the ruins to a view across the valley of Ravello, you’ll spend plenty of time just taking it all in.

Amalfi Coast Travel Ravello from Sant Eustachio

Don’t miss walking down into the crypt, which was one covered with frescoes and was likely one of the most beautifully decorated areas of the church.

Amalfi Coast Travel Sant Eustachio Crypt

One wall features a painting that is an architectural rendering of what Sant’Eustachio may have looked like originally. It’s helpful for kicking your imagination into full gear before heading back up to the ruins. Just how might the interior have looked originally?

Amalfi Coast Travel Sant Eustachio Architectural Rendering

Now there are only a few traces left to help us figure that out. But what remains is incredibly evocative, as is the entire setting.

Amalfi Coast Travel Sant Eustachio Column

If you’re planning a hike on the Amalfi Coast, one of my favorite is the walk from Scala through Minuta and Pontone down to Amalfi. If you follow that hike, do plan a stop in Pontone to visit the ruins of Sant’Eustachio.

Amalfi Coast Travel Sant Eustachio Sign